Yves Klein: How texture affects our perception of color in Blue Monochrome | AT THE MUSEUM

Yves Klein: How texture affects our perception of color in Blue Monochrome | AT THE MUSEUM


This is an area that hasn’t been treated
yet. So you’ll notice that the restoration appears
a bit lighter than the surrounding original paint and it’s sort of filling in the original
paint-roller texture. You’ll notice that the paint-roller creates
this very sharp impasto texture and the restoration is a bit chalky and fills in that texture. Even though this restoration is ultramarine
blue in polyvinyl acecetate resin just like Klein’s original because the texture is incorrect we are perceiving
the color differently than the surrounding area. So my task is to first correct that texture
and then correct the color. The tools that I’m using come to us from
the surgical field. There are very few tools that are made just
for conservation because conservation is a sort of small field so we borrow from other fields—often surgery
or dentistry. These tools are very, very small spoons with
sharp edges that are used for corneal surgery. These, unfortunately, I have to sharpen by
hand as they dull because Klein’s paint is much harder than a cornea, and so it doesn’t
last quite as long as it would in a surgical environment. Klein, to create his perfect matte blue surfaces,
worked with a scientist in Paris to come up with a mixture of ultramarine blue and polyvinyl
acetate resin. What I’m doing to do the color restoration
portion of the treatment is actually sampling original material from the back of the painting
where the paint has sort of spilled over the edge and onto the back to get the closest
possible color for restoring the color on the front. It’s sort of like a skin graft in a way—taking
material from another place and using it on the front. But it is the only way we’ve found to get
exactly the color that we need. Even using exactly the correct pigment in
exactly the correct resin, it’s very difficult to get the color match, so using the original
material is the closest that we can get. I’m sampling the paint dry and then using
ethyl acetate to redissolve the paint. When the paint goes onto the surface it has
to dry at exactly the correct rate to get the right color. And then after the paint has been applied,
you’ll notice that there’s an overall sort of burnished look in some areas of the
painting, so there’s actually a fine refining of the texture after the paint goes on to
get that sort of burnished look which gets… you’ll notice that when the paint goes on
it’s a little bit darker and then when I go in and refine the texture even further,
then the color corrects. So the burnished surface allows the light
to reflect off of these restored areas in the same way that it reflects off the surrounding
areas so that it blends more completely no matter what angle the viewer is approaching
the painting from.

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